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Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, Capital Expansion.

MoPa

My companion and I drive south on the 405 towards the Mexican border.We cruise past long lovely vistas of the gleaming sun setting on a picture postcard ocean. Itís a beautiful drive with one jarring distraction.Disquieting signs in the center median show a ďfamilyĒ in silhouette, an obvious father, mother and child, hand in hand with the childís feet lifted off the ground.They are all running. Itís a sign meant to warn drivers of the possibility of illegal Mexican immigrants stealing up from the ocean and running across the highway. It is impossible to imagine how anyone could make it alive across the eight lanes of speeding traffic to the mountains on the other side, but apparently people risk it often enough for the powers that be to warn drivers to be prepared.The signs are strangely affecting.They portray a family and we are warned not to run them over.Weíre headed towards San Diego to see the new renovations and expansions that have quadrupled the size of the Museum of Photographic Arts in that city. Itís not easy to find parking but finally victorious, we head off in the splendid sunshine to meet Sandy Wagner, Public Relations Director who gives us a tour of the new facilities. Itís a beautiful space located in Balboa Park in an arcade of imitation-Spanish Baroque buildings of sister museums, a botanical garden and a theatrical complex.As a small museum, MoPA has gained wide recognition for the quality of its exported exhibitions as well as amassing an impressive collection of fine photographs. Director Arthur Ollman, a former Bay Area photographer and curator, has overseen the renovation and expansion of the museum, which now includes additional galleries, classrooms, print-viewing rooms and a 25,000-volume library, as well as a state of the art theater for video and film.The exhibition schedule offers approximately six shows a year, and displays work from the entire history of the medium, including everything from daguerreotypes and albumen prints of the 19th century to master works from many of the best photographers working today. If youíre going south, MoPA is a stop well worth your time, but make sure you watch the road.

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